One of the key principles of successful college ministries seems to be Movement, a strategic focus on helping students move toward increasing levels of involvement and growth. But I’ve seen a lot more college ministries that have their Program Pillars in place – large group meeting, small groups, service opportunities, leadership team – than I’ve seen college ministries that create purposeful bridges between those Pillars.
But creating bridges is a key to helping Movement happen.
During my recent trip to Brazil, I had the chance to observe one such bridge: the Starbucks Communities organized by Zoe, the young adult church we connected with down there. For those who aren’t involved in Zoe at all, those communities are a helpful bridge to being involved – a far less drastic first step than attending the church worship service. I’ll talk about the Starbucks Communities – and those kinds of bridges – more tomorrow, as this week’s Fridea.
But the intricacies of this method aren’t today’s point. The idea of any “bridge” is to create opportunities for students to take baby-steps (rather than big steps) as they progress through your ministry. My time in Brazil really got me re-thinking about how effective these methods can be.
Any of the following can serve as a bridge:
- A once-a-month social gathering can bridge between non-involvement and visiting your weekly meeting.
- A short-term, “trial” small group provides a bridge toward regular participation in small groups.
- Assigning “deputy leaders,” “apprentices,” “hosts,” “social facilitators,” “prayer warriors,” or other “second tier” positions within small groups can bridge students toward leading a small group later.
- Taking ownership of organizing a one-time activity can help bridge a student into a permanent service position.
- A public info session about leadership opportunities can bridge students into potential leadership positions.
And those are simply a few examples. A bridge is simply any method that help students take small, easier steps toward deeper involvement. They’re not your “key structures” in the sense that your weekly meeting or core team might be, but they help get students to the next step with greater ease.
I certainly can’t say what kinds of bridges your campus ministry needs. But I can say with pretty strong certainty that your campus ministry needs to have some bridges. I can also say that it would be very worth your time this summer to create 5 or 10 new bridges to help students increase their involvement and growth!
In case you’re wonderin’, that bridge picture is from Northern Illinois U.